Telecom and broadcasting regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has issued a consultation paper on regulation of platform services offered by local cable operators and direct-to-home (DTH) operators.
Platform services include those programming services offered by cable and DTH service providers on their platform that are not obtained from broadcasters.
Almost all broadcasting service providers, including 'distribution platform operators' (DPOs) (ie, cable TV, DTH, IPTV and HITS operators) operate certain kind of programming services that are not obtained from broadcasters and are specific to their platform.
These include movies and music related programmes, local community-based programmes, local news and current affairs, interactive games, shopping channels, and education channels.
Trai has raised issues such as registration process, security clearances, limits on geographical reach of these channels, compliance with advertising and content code, and conditions of imposing penal provisions in case of violations in view of the fact that a proper regulatory framework is required to govern these channels and value-added services since programming is similar to the programmes transmitted by regular TV channels.
Trai has sought stakeholders' views on issues such as definition of platform services (PS), types of programmes that can be carried on PS channels, eligibility criteria for registration of PS, security clearance of PS channels, registration of PS channels, penal provisions for non-adherence to terms and conditions of registration as also other obligations to be imposed.
Trai's move to regulate platform services comes after the ministry of information and broadcasting expressed concern about the transmission of these local channels over a wide geographical area, like any other national or regional channel, without obtaining any permission from the ministry.
Some of the issues the paper is reviewing include whether these channels should be defined as broadcast channels or value-added services.
Trai is also seeking stakeholders' opinion on issues such as the kind of content that platform services should be allowed to transmit. For instance, some stakeholders believe that cable channels should not offer local news as they trespass into the domain of regular broadcasters.